Masks now required in Edmonton Catholic classrooms, says division

EDMONTON — Edmonton Catholic students will, after all, need to wear masks in all areas of their school.

The division announced on Monday a change to its back-to-school plan, which, when it was released mid-August, only mandated face coverings in common areas.

Masks will be mandatory for all K-12 students, except while they are eating, outside, or in music or physical education class.

Masks inside schools will also be mandatory for staff, who were previously only expected to wear masks in common areas and recommended to elsewhere.

Edmonton Catholic Schools said it was making the change “as part of our commitment to continually examine our protocols and the substantial rise of COVID-19 cases among school-aged children since we released our plan on August 16.”

Since mid-August, the active case count amongst Albertans aged five to nine has risen from 65.6 per 100,000 to 168.2.

Over that same timeframe, the active case count amongst Albertans aged 10 to 19 has risen from 123.4 per 100,000 to 219.2.

Earlier in August, Edmonton Public Schools announced it would require masks until COVID-19 vaccine was available to students of all ages.

Elk Island Public Schools requires all visitors, staff and students K-6 to wear a mask, on only students 7-12 if the immunization rate in their community is below 70 per cent.

Neither the Black Gold School Division south of Edmonton nor St. Albert Public Schools mandated masks inside schools earlier this month; however, St. Albert reversed that decision on Monday and made masks mandatory inside its schools for all students and staff.

“As positive cases continue to rise across the province, our re-entry plan will now include masking requirements in an effort to make sure our return to school is as safe as possible for our students and staff, to prevent outbreaks within our schools, and to keep our students in school, and our schools open, as much as possible,” St. Albert Public Schools said in a release.

The Catholic school divisions for both St. Albert and Elk Island “strongly recommended” masks in common areas and classrooms.

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